But, with five playwrights from as many different countries involved, it’s perhaps hardly surprising that the result – though often visually stunning – is both episodic and variable.
Part of World Stages London and loosely tracing the spread of aspects of the Yoruba belief system from its Nigerian origins via the slave ships to Cuba, Brazil, the USA and England, its epic aspirations are whittled down to several shortish scenes.
Three bickering sisters in early 18th century Nigeria squabble over which path to take, a slave in Brazil in the late 1880’s doesn’t know how she’ll cope when the white man she nursed through his childhood sets her free, a white American seeks out a prostitute in Cuba (though it’s not sex he’s after) and in the streets of Olympic London a black athlete’s relationship to her white trainer is aggressively challenged.
Bracketed by a series of shape-shifting transformations achieved with a flash of light and a moving screen, the dialogue (through no fault of the actors) proves limitedly informative.
But George Cespedes’ sinuous, cat-like choreography, Katrina Lindsay’s shimmering design and Lysander Ashton’s projections provide more than compensatory sensual highlights in a production made memorable by director Rufus Norris’s staging, the vivacious warmth of the performances – and the presence of a live chicken.
Young Vic, The Cut, SE1 8LZ
Tube: Southwark / Waterloo
Until 23rd February £10.00 – £30.00